Monday, February 27, 2006

Chapter 1: "Back"

"Sheesh." I half-winced and headed straight for the "back" button as the words "Welcome To My World" flashed across the screen with dancing ponies galloping round star-shaped icons. Not another soppy, generic blog.
My name is Garrick and I am, as you might guess, an on-holiday 18 year old who doesn't have much of a social life. For the past month, most of my mornings and afternoons have been spent dropping by random blogs of friends of friends of friends. Before you shake your head and dismiss me as yet another idle loser, let me assure you that that is the most productive way of spending time within the four walls that make up my house, apart from playing Minesweeper or Solaitre.
Love Is Life, To Live Is To Love.!
The World According To Jason The Great. Ugh.
My Blog, My Life. Whoa. How original.
The Crazy Blog. Rrrrrrite.
My, my. What a pitiful state of things. I had barely been reading actively for a month and already there didn't seem to be anything new on offer. The last interesting blog I read, apart from my own, had been this one where some guy wrote fictional stories and updated them chapterly as posts. And that was a good five days ago.
Then suddenly a link from Enter If You Dare caught my eye. Squeezed obscurely between names of people who sounded like wannabe-bimbos or boy band members was a link that got my ears prickling a little. It was just simply, "Blogspot". No description, nothing out of the ordinary. But still I couldn't help feeling mightily curious.
So click went my mouse, and the address bar on top read: "What the...well, this guy's sure got a creative bone in him."
"The requested URL was not found on this server. Please visit the Blogger homepage or the Blogger Knowledge Base for further assistance."
Phooey. All that hype for nothing. I led my cursor to the "Back" button, clicked it, and SWOOSH! Like a pop-up ad a bearded old man appeared out of nowhere beside me. Only that he couldn't be X-ed away or blocked.
"Hi there," He flashed his bad row of teeth. "I'm the Archiver."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Writer's Block

I'm back!

Oh, wait...I probably shouldn't be saying that. I've come across more than a few blogs which had that as their final post before they died off. So nope nope, I'm not back, just that I'm posting a little later than I should.

Okayyy...I was hoping I wouldn't need to mention this, but it has been more than a week since I posted my presumably mind-blowing finale to The New Girl and...yeah. You know what I mean.

All around me it seems that blogs are dying...even my own. Has blogging outlived its usefulness? Has society finally caught on to how there are much more meaningful ways to spend your free time than describing your day which no one cares about and ranting on social issues designed only to make you appear informed and intellectual?

Maybe. Maybe not.

(At this point the writer pauses and stares at the screen for twenty minutes. I kid you not.)

That's it! THAT'S IT! Why, oh WHY didn't I think of it before?

Ladies and gentlemen, my next story...Blogspot 2.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Where Do We Go From Here?

Where do we go from here?
This isn't where we intended to be
We had it all, you believed in me
I believed in you

Certainties disappear
What do we do for our dream to survive?
How do we keep all our passions alive,
As we used to do?

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away

You must love me
You must love me

Why are you at my side?
How can I be any use to you now?
Give me a chance and I'll let you see how
Nothing has changed

Deep in my heart I'm concealing
Things that I'm longing to say
Scared to confess what I'm feeling
Frightened you'll slip away

You must love me
You must love me

You must love me this is my first time ever posting song lyrics on my blog like regular people do. Welcome back to the mainstream, Twisted Tales. =p
For some reason this song You Must Love Me from Evita has been playing over and over in my mind for the past few days. Not that anyone I'm in love with has left me or something, but there's just something about the first line which asks where do we go from here that gets my goosebumps a-tingling.
Sigh...that's such a difficult question for me these days in all aspects - from my working life to my walk with God, and to even yes, this blog here. Maybe this Daniel has a thing or two to learn about facing changes from the Daniel in the Old Testament.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The New Girl, Chapter 28 (Conclusion)

If you'll be kind enough to check the archives, you'll realise like I did that it's been an exact 11 months since I last posted a story conclusion. This ain't no pre-planned anniversary thingy I'm telling ya, everything was written in the stars. So pardon me if I'm a teensy bit jumpy and blabbery in my preamble today...
Was feeling majorly down for the most part of yesterday and today due to this personality test which pencilled me down as (horrors!) the "thinker" sort who's boring, meticulous, one-plus-one-equals-to-two, and (not my words, mind you) "refers to manuals while having sex". Argh. I mean, like, really ARGH.
After the usual soak, rinse, and dry routine of being dumbfounded at the result, then feeling as though all the things I ever liked and prided about myself were a huge self-pleasing scam, and then reflecting on all the times in my life when this part of my personality had been dominant, the funny thing is this: I would have no qualms about being the "thinker" sort in primary school, and neither would anyone who knew me. I was, in short, the kid who always received encyclopedias and "Here's More Tell Me Why" books for Christmas. Sad, but I didn't know better. Secondary school, college, and my time in church (which coincides with college till now) would be when I made a name for myself more as the funny/ creative/ lame/ crazy fellow - take your pick. "Thinker" was always in there, but very much under wraps to those who didn't know me well enough. And now here I am back again at "thinker". The more things change, the more they stay the same?
One of the conclusions I came to this morning was that no matter how much I try surrounding myself with artsy stuff and humour, the black-or-white dude who is unable to just "let go" and "feel" lives on. And before you think I'm overreacting to a dubious personality test, let me tell you that this wasn't a one shot incident, it's been hinted at me slightly for quite a while now.
And here's the funniest thing of the whole issue - back when I was at the pinnacle of lame, I always resented not being taken seriously enough. And now that I'm drifting back to the OPPOSITE of lame, heh get what I mean.
Oh well...perhaps Joey McIntyre got it right after all.

May held her breath as she uncapped the black marker. She could take the funny medicine odours in the hospital pharmacy with enough practice, but the choking smell of thinner was something she'd always resented since that time she helped her dad fill up petrol.
Dad. Mom. It's been a while since they came. I wonder how they're doing now.
She leaned over to the calendar by the window sill which filtered some of the sun's inquisitive rays and put a big "X" over today's date. It wasn't a big day, nor did it bear much significance any more. Maybe it did two years ago, but not today - three years since that fateful day in the garden.
Jean wouldn't stop crying that night. She kept holding on to May's shoulders, not wanting to let go even when the police and paramedics finally arrived. It was a scene that would be burnt into May's mind forever - the moment they handcuffed her before her auntie who never said a single word. As she was escorted to the police car Jean turned to her, a sorrowful smile taking the place of her sobs. She, in return, shook her head and walked away. It was hard to tell who was more regretful of the way things turned out.
And surprise, surprise, the paramedics found a pulse in Saras. May hitched a ride on the ambulance to the hospital where they wheeled her straight into the emergency room. However, the damage had been done. The prolonged asphyxia, or what the doctors told her was lack of oxygen to the body, had left her severely handicapped mentally. Her parents, being both financially and time constrained, made the heartbreaking decision to have her sent to a government institution in the capital to be taken care of.
Most unfortunately for May, her age never returned to normal even after the secret garden disappeared. Not wanting to stay on in the town and be reminded of all the terrible things that had happened, she chose to move out to the capital herself and volunteer as a nurse in the institution where Saras was in. It was a choice that her parents strongly objected to, but May believed that she was now old enough to make her own decisions. Strangely, the rapid aging had matured her mind as well. She could now latch on to things and examine different perspectives much faster than she could when she was sixteen (granted, she still was technically sixteen). It had taken a very long time for May to come to terms with how the best years of her life were gone just like that. No prom nights, no double dates, no hanging out with friends till the wee hours in the morning. However, every day she woke up May made herself count one blessing that she had swept beneath her losses. Well, at least i didn't age as much as that Misha girl. Well, some people don't even get to live to sixteen. Well, I can still walk on my two feet and hold a proper job. Who am I to be complaining? Look at poor Saras.

And before she knew it, three years passed.

Then another. And another. And another. So many anothers that she did not bother counting any more. Her parents stopped visiting her a long time ago. So had Saras'. May didn't mind, though. There was enough to do in the institution to keep her busy and fulfilled. Sadly for Saras, her physical condition was deteriorating as well as mentally. Even sitting up became a challenge for her. "Don't you give up yet." May always told her. "Not till I give up on myself."
But words alone weren't enough to mask the truth. One still night, without anyone knowing, Saras left the world.
It wasn't that May never imagined this happening, but you never can prepare for death. It hit her hard for a few months, losing her only remaining friend from St. Francesca's Girl School. Now she truly felt alone, disconnected from her past. Without a past there didn't seem to be a future as well.
Gradually her disillusionment showed up in her work, so much so that she could not continue doing the only thing that had kept her going all these years - nursing. Barely two weeks from her termination notice, May Leong See Mei was found passed out from an overdose of prescription pills. Being an experienced druggist, there was no way she would have taken too few. No farewell notes or sentimental touches; May had left with no baggage whatsoever from this world. The coroner estimated her physical age to be 60.

Now that would be fitting enough as an end to this twisted tale, don't you think? No? Huh? Was there anything left unresolved?
Why, I remember. Jean.
Now, here's what happened to Jean.
Neither Saras nor May ever saw her again after that day, and vice versa. She was subsequently charged in juvenile court for attempted murder and sentenced to twelve years. Most would agree that she was extremely fortunate to have escaped life imprisonment or death due to her being a junior, and that Saras did not die.
Juvenille centres aren't exactly the best places to spend your teenage years in. Whether you were the strong type, the silent type, or the fearful type, getting bullied was a certainty if you were new there. The ways the other girls intimidated and ragged her made what Saras did seem like child's play. A favourite trick of theirs was "Liquid X", where a certain liquid would be poured into her food while she was blindfolded, and then having her guess what it was by tasting the food. Of course, Liquid X was very rarely water.
So many times she had stared at her bony wrists, wondering whether she could end it all like they did in the movies.
"We all have things we don't like about our lives, and it's how we go about them that make some people happier than others. You've been trying to hide, trying to run away all your life. There's a real world out there and you need to face it."
These words, which Jean never understood till May hugged her with so much compassion were all she held on to in the worst times of her life. She had to take whatever life threw at her the best she could and live on till she met May again. May would be so proud of her if she made it through this.
Jean was eventually released after seven years on account of good behaviour. As she stepped through the prison gates which had held her captive for a good part of her youth, she didn't know what to feel. She had nothing to begin with, and now she still had nothing to start over with. It was like a clean slate being wiped out white again. All she knew was that she had to seek out May and thank her.

However life has a way of giving you the best when you expect the worst. Out of nowhere Jean found out that she had inherited half a million ringgit from her late parents, to be given to her on her 21st birthday. After a fruitless few months of searching for May, Jean forgot about her and kept herself busy with the mini fortune. With an uncannily imaginative mind that very few people had and a mixture of being at the right place at the right time, Jean Khoo found herself the head of a chain of amusement parks around the country just ten years after being released from juvenille prison. Her amusement parks were not regular bang-zoom parks with rides and carnivals. They were Secret Gardens - places where you could hide from all the fears and troubles of the outside world. You did not have to share the Secret Garden with everyone else; it was yours and yours alone. And a best friend or two, probably.
Gradually as the years piled on top of each other and the prospect of expanding the business internationally grew more and more exciting, May was pushed so far back in Jean's mind that she forgot that the girl had existed. This was probably when May and Saras passed away.

Sometimes when you are wearied enough of the world and the people in it, your personal Secret Garden blooms somewhere only you know. Now, it doesn't happen often and you only see it if you put a whole lot of faith in it. It isn't always a lush flowery meadow like what Jean's was, everyone has it written in some hidden corner of their mind what their own Secret Garden will look like.
For the lucky few who have been there, and have been patient to stay long enough for the wind to die down and nightfall to cover, the fairies always paint the story of three unusually bright stars in the sky for them to hear. The story of three girls - one who drove the other to seek her Secret Garden, one who gave her life to help the other break free of the Secret Garden, and one who held on to all the Garden had taught her.


At this point the writer decides that the title of this story is hereby changed to "The Secret Garden". Frances Hodgson who?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The New Girl, Chapter 27

Here's the more completed version of the second-last Chapter of The New Girl which replaces the slightly inadequate one I posted in a rush last night. Do re-read it if neccessary, under all esteemed recommendations. And just like the Chapter before this, I ended up writing something different for the last paragraph than what I had in mind during the first. Strange, that keeps happening lately...spontaneity at play?
Have fun while it lasts, you don't get second-last Chapters around here everyday.

May had seen enough madness here to last her a lifetime. It was no longer a matter of who was behind what or whether Jean or Saras was wrong. The most apparent thing now was that the garden was no longer the safe haven that Jean had had her believe. It was a devil's playground masquerading as an angelic paradise which had ruined both their lives in different ways.
"Jean," she cried in desperation. "What have you done? When does this all end?"
"I-I don't know," she seemed dazed as well.
Saras' limp body, sprawled on the grass, cast a long shadow over the two girls. May didn't even realise that the sun was already setting. It wasn't the first time she had witnessed a sunset in the secret garden, but this one was somewhat different - darker, more sinister, as if bringing closure to the final chapter of her life.
"Is she dead?"
"There's no way we can leave now," Jean's bloodshot eyes reflected in May's. "We'll just get thrown in jail and executed. Let's just stay here forever."
"HELLO, THAT'S NOT GOING TO SOLVE ANYTHING! Let's leave this place already! I can't afford to get any older!"
"Oh, please don't say that May. Please don't leave me's all become such a big mess. This garden is all I have left now. I'll talk to the fairies and see what they can do about the age thing. Just don't go. I'm begging you."
"You're crazy."
"Maybe I am," she wept. "But all I ever wanted to become was a normal girl like you and Misha. I try really so hard that it makes me tired, and still people are so cruel. Life itself is so cruel to me. I-is it really that wrong to want to be happy?"
An uncontrollable pity for the desperate girl pleading before her squeezed tears out of May's eyes. "No, Jean. It's not wrong."
"We all have things we don't like about our lives, and it's how we go about them that make some people happier than others. You've been trying to hide, trying to run away all your life. There's a real world out there and you need to face it."
Her head hung low.
"It's the only way, girl. Forget this garden. It's only temporary."
Bit by bit the leaves in the trees detached themselves and fell to the ground. The grass morphed into a muddy brown till it became a part of the soil. The wind, the birds, the streams - everything disappeared before May's eyes. She couldn't describe how or why, but it just did.
"There. It's over."
Jean was now an unconsolable sob. ""
Often words were the last thing you needed for times like this. May put her arms around her and hugged her for all she was worth.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The New Girl, Chapter 26

One thing I forgot to mention in my Writer's Block - a decision has been made on the publishing of Ghostopia. I'll be publishing it only after I complete it, rather than go chapter by chapter. Less stressful for me, more waiting for you. And by publishing I mean Blogger Publishing, so go ahead, finish off all your MPH Vouchers. Heh heh.
Today's chapter of The New Girl would be a perfect example of writing the last paragrpah differently than what I had in mind when I wrote the first. Still, I think it's better this way. You judge. Not like what you think would make a lick of difference though, but you judge...

Saras ran her finger over the spot where Jean had slapped her. It was still the colour of an undercooked slab of mutton.
"Let's play that game we always played together," Jean grinned wickedly. "It's called 'I Point, You Eat'. Surely you remember that - right, Saras?"
She scowled and got back on her feet. "I'll give you no more than ten seconds to fully explain all this nonsense. Then we'll talk about that most unfortunate slap."
"Shut up already," said Jean through gritted teeth. "I said we're playing."
Saras' face could not have been more than two inches away from Jean's. Amazingly though, Jean still wore the same look of superiority that was present when slapping Saras. Not a trace of intimidation you would expect from a victim facing her bully.
"I'm gonna make you cry!" Saras poked her forehead tauntingly. "Then we play."
Jean pursed her lips so tightly that her face reddened. Her breath came out in short noisy snorts through the nose.
"So now you're angry, huh? You're gonna fight back? Sure you are! This is your world, right? That's what you said, I'm sure! Come on! Enough of the pig noises already!"
"Uh, Saras..." May wasn't too sure if this was the right thing to do now.
"It's okay, May, I know exactly what she's doing. First she makes you feel sorry for her. The traumatic childhood, the tough times I gave her in school, all that same ol' drivel. Then comes the "How I wish someone would give two craps about me" and "Why is this all happening to me" drill. You're everyone's victim, aren't you?"
"Do you know why we picked on you in the first place, Jean? Not because you were weird, or because you seemed weak and helpless. Simply because you were the most self-pitying, delusional, attention seeking, paranoid brat I'd ever come across in my life!"
"And now," she concluded with a smirk. "We're supposed to think that you're scary."
There was absolute silence in the garden. Not a single leaf rustled, nor did a single bird chirp. The grass could very well have stopped growing.
Jean stared hatefully at Saras for a long time. Now Saras was the one wearing a smug expression.
"What was that, Jean? You gotta speak up, you know."
"Speak up, you cretin."
"I HATE YOU!" Jean sprang up and pinned Saras to the ground, hands locked around her throat. May gasped in shock.
Saras tried to break free, but her grip grew chokingly tighter like a hangman's noose. She heaved in and out, attempting to throw Jean off her chest instead. Nothing happened. She couldn't understand it.
It didn't last long. May was still struggling to understand what was happening when Saras stopped thrashing about. No more stifled croaks were heard coming from her colourless lips. She became as still as the sky.
"I still hate you." Jean whispered and finally released her fingers. Saras lay in a crumpled heap on the ground, a perfect picture of a confused girl who never had any clue how the tables could have been turned so mercilessly on her.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Writer's Block

Why hellllo, nurses!
The last three days have been the epitome of purposeless living and idleness, if you'll excuse me for saying that. I'm sure there were more than a couple of occassions when I just stared at my handphone waiting for someone to call and ask me to go save them from a raging fire or something. Ah well, it's the sort of times that you wish would never end and would end quickly both at once.
Of course, no rotting of the mind is complete without an incredulous number of hours staring at the computer screen from dawn till dusk. However this time around, it isn't some lame-o project that only the likes of ME would even dare dream of - I have proudly managed to coax my elder sister into watching (and falling head over heels in love with) one of my most favourite shows ever, Rurouni Kenshin (or Samurai X).
Now now, I sure am not an anime person - heck, I don't even watch that Naru whatsthenameagain show - but believe me when I say that Kenshin is one of the best shows I've ever watched. Nay, one of the best stories I've ever heard. Even if you took away the beautiful art and music, it would still be blow you away whether you're the lovey-dovey mushy sort or one that enjoys a good heated fight. Trade Secret #26: Up till now each time I concoct a story in my head, I use Kenshin as a measuring stick. Is there enough reason to care for this character? Are the situations and explanations too "yeah, right" to buy? Yups, "what would Kenshin do" always is the question.
Hoh boy, better stop now before I go on and do something as dumb as THIS.

Indeed, these are special times as we draw close to another end of a story. Which means the coming of a new one. Ack. This must be the closest I've ever been to the end of a story without any idea how the next one will be like. What I would really like to do is going back to the basics...a straightforward "good versus evil" story, kinda like that first one I wrote here. "Blogspot" was it? Yups...not the sort of story that leaves you with a dozen points to ponder staring at the ceiling, but a delightful romp through the park that doesn't take itself too seriously. Though I would never agree to Blogspot being the best of the four Twisted Tales so far, there is no denying that the reader response for it was the best, making it such a joy to write. So pencil it down people...Story Number Five, coming your way some time in the near future!

The New Girl? Whoops yeah, we should be waiting breathlessly for the climax now. Sighh...what can I say without making it sound like self praise or pointless criticism? The most dangerous thing to do at this point would be to make things too far-fetched or ridiculous, now that the element of magic has been introduced. More so when everything has been soooo subtle and curiousity-inducing all this while. But how then, can Jean become a fearsome villain if you don't have her brething fireballs? Bwahahahaha, go figure.
And is there enough time for a twist for Saras? She appears to be on May's side currently, but there's just so much you could do for her background with Jean. You could have her pulling the strings for Jean. Or maybe be the mastermind behind the secret garden. Or defeat Jean in an epic showdown of sorcery. Or maybe not.
It makes me tingle with excitement, ah yes. Be seeing you, kiddos. :-)